“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

I have a lot of hair.  At least, for the most part, it stays on my head, which at an age where the hair starts thinning on our heads, and growing everywhere else we don’t want it to, I suppose I should shut up and be grateful.  But when I say a lot, I mean A LOT.  It’s thick, and wavy and heavy and it has a mind of its own. It took me until I was over 40 years old to figure out that maybe it’s just best to leave my hair to professionals.  Real, bonafide expensive stylists at real salons who know what they hell they are doing with the scissors.  It now takes an hour to cut and style my hair.  Back before I resisted the temptation to layer it, it took less than ten minutes to tidy up the ends, because I wore it at one length to my waist.  Now it is layered and blown and smoothed and straightened.  All to give that casual windblown “I just got out of my Jaguar convertible” look.

But I am a complete piker in comparison to my grandmother.  She was of the generation that had her hair “set”.  Twice a week she went in to be washed and teased and sprayed and it was definitely NOT designed to look effortless.  She wore her towering hairdo like a badge of honor.  She was a woman who could afford to be “done” and it should, by golly, look like she had been.  I remember going with her, sitting in the waiting chairs with a “Highlights” magazine, amidst the smell of perm solution and a haze of “Adorn” hairspray, waiting for her to emerge from under the giant bonnet hairdryers, a mountain of curlers on her head like so many spiked caterpillars.  I wince when I think of the times she sat, cigarette dangling from between perfectly lacquered nails, while she was sprayed down, holding the little face shield in her offhand.  It’s amazing she never lit the stream of hairspray on fire like a blowtorch.

My grandmother never went to bed without a open-top turban on her head, and she slept only on satin pillowcases.  That seemed so exotic to the younger me, the one that napped on her bed, with my cheek against the cool slick pillow, inhaling the smell of her face lotion.

It wasn’t until I was in middle age myself that I understood the salon thing.  For most of my life it was a giant waste of time, a scheduling nightmare done out of necessity.  I deliberately picked a career that didn’t require a polished look until I hit managerial status.   But a flexible schedule and a late need to dress and act like an adult (staved off until over 40) finally led me to appreciate the intangible joys of a salon, a real salon.

It is to be fussed over.

For one hour, I get an entire staff dedicated to making me feel good about myself.  The shampooist massages conditioner into my hair, and I can almost feel the tenseness wash down the drain with the rinse water.  As my stylist runs her hands through my hair we chat.  About nothing at all.  The weather.  The construction on the highway.  My child’s new school.  The song playing on the satellite radio feed.  They dress my hair with fantastic smells.   They bring me coffee and bottled water.  They touch up my makeup when I am done.  No pressure, no demands.

I pay for a premium salon, but believe me, for that hour it’s a bargain.  It’s a far sight less than I would pay a therapist and I come out feeling 100X better and my mascara is intact.  I tip well – REALLY well.

It’s something my factory-working grandmother didn’t need an office and a college degree to figure out.

I think, next week, I will schedule that manicure.

And maybe buy a couple satin pillowcases.

July 22nd, 2010 at 7:57 pm
11 Responses to “Effortless takes work, you know.”
  1. 1
    Artie Says:

    You have a Jaguar convertible!?!?

  2. 2
    Pink Pelican Says:

    Sing it, sister! I pay a pretty penny for cut and color, but it’s worth every penny for that hour and a half. My stylist is a friendly, cheerful girl who knows her stuff & makes me feel pretty. She does a lovely job, and I’m happy to pay her well and tip her well.

  3. 3

    Seriously!! Mine does this amazing scalp massage as she shampoos my hair. It is like the stress of the day slips into the sink and down the drain. If it went on much longer I’d probably fall asleep. 🙂

  4. 4

    *ahem* New hair calls for PICTURES.

  5. 5

    Oh, I do have a related haircut story. I bought a new woodworking device. They type is unimportant. My wife asked how much it cost, so I said, “oh, about one of your haircuts.”

    Wife: “That’s not so bad.”

    Me: “Wait, no, one of your haircuts with COLOR.”

    Wife: “You spent WHAT???”

  6. 6
    Dirkje Says:

    I so totally agree with you! Just had my hair cut the other day. Now I am your polar opposite. I have very little hair on purpose. It is easier but it is still professionally coloured and styled. And as you say, worth ever cent I pay. If I were a woman that could stay home and afford it, I would go there every day just to have my hair washed! And my gal is a dream too. What would we do without our hairdressers??

    :o)

  7. 7
    Susan Says:

    Yum. I love a good salon! Aveda salons are the best.. : )
    I just splurged and went in for a massage and spa pedicure. I tend to only do that like once every two years…not sure why I don’t do it more often. It seems soooo expensive, but when I get down to it, I realize that I am worth some pampering! We, as moms and wives, give so much to other people, sometimes it’s nice to give back to ourselves.

  8. 8
    Robbin Says:

    Yep. I go to an Aveda salon. Sheena at Payton Place – I cannot recommend her enough!

  9. 9
    dad Says:

    Just for the record, Both grandparents on this side died with a full head of hair. My hairline is the same as when I was in High School.

  10. 10
    Laurie Says:

    That sounds like my grandmother, too only she slept with silver clips all around her ears to hold that part in place. Her giant poof of hair was trimmed shorter over the years but was still styled the same. Thanks for the memories!

  11. 11
    The_Moira Says:

    I need to make my husband read this so that maybe he will understand why the $12 haircut, while sufficient, just doesn’t quite feel like “the real thing.” My former stylist ended up closing shop 18 months ago and I haven’t found anyone else since.